26 October 2018
Occupational Therapy Week – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Suzanne Eustace
Occupational Therapy Week helps promote the many ways occupational therapy can help people at all stages of life to reach their potential. This year, OT Week is being celebrated from 21 to 27 October.
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) is the international voice of the occupational therapy profession which globally comprises of 101 national occupational therapy professional organisations.
Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their daily life.
The occupational therapy process is based on initial and repeated assessments. The occupational therapist together with the person they are working with focus on individual and environmental abilities and problems related to activities in the person’s daily life.
Assessment includes the use of standardised procedures, interviews, observations in a variety of settings and consultation with significant people in the person’s life.
The results of the assessment are the basis of the plan which includes short and long-term aims of treatment. The plan should be relevant to the person’s development stage, habits, roles, life-style preferences and the environment.
Intervention focuses on programs that are person oriented and environmental. These are designed to facilitate the performance of everyday tasks and adaptation of settings in which the person works, lives and socialises. OTs do this through asking and seeing what you can do. When they know about your movement and strength in any particular activity, OTs can give you advice about how best to do something more easily and safely.
Occupational therapists recognise the importance of teamwork. Cooperation and coordination with other professionals, families, caregivers and volunteers are important in the realisation of the holistic approach.
Occupational therapists work across a whole range of settings. Some of these include:
• Public and private hospitals
• Medical rehabilitation units
• Your local community health centre
• Occupational health centres • Home care services
• Retirement homes
• Psychiatric clinics, hostels and hospitals
• Vocational rehabilitation clinics • Tertiary education centres
• Independent living centres
• Private practice
• Schools, pharmacy and industry
Some specific areas of practice for OT ‘s include:
Occupational therapy for children
Occupational therapy promotes normal development and stimulates learning in children with specific learning difficulties, physical disabilities, delayed development or those recovering from illness or injury.
Working with children, their families and teachers, occupational therapists aim to improve the child’s quality of life by helping them to participate in play, preschool, school and home activities.
An occupational therapist may work with children in any of the following areas:
• Prerequisite activities – the child’s physical abilities, such as motor control, hand-to-eye coordination, body awareness and sensation
• Functional skills – the child’s day-to-day living skills, such as eating, writing, going to the toilet, interacting with other children and playground skills
• The environment – such as classroom furniture, classroom and schoolyard access, and equipment for woodwork, art and physical education.
Occupational therapy for adults and seniors
When an adult or an older person is affected by an illness, accident or workplace injury, an occupational therapist can help them on the road to recovery. They may assist with the return to home and work life through the development of new skills for daily living, such as household tasks and personal care, return-to-work or leisure programs. They may also make or facilitate changes to the work or home environment to make life easier and safer.
Occupational therapy in mental health
Occupational therapists also assist adults who are experiencing psychological or emotional difficulties. They can help a person to develop better ways to deal with mental illness in the context of day-to-day activities, managing work and emotional problems. They work with other health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and doctors.
Occupational therapy in the workplace
Occupational therapists play an important role in helping workers return to work following an injury or illness, including stress. Their role in the workplace covers:
• Injury management and rehabilitation – including worksite assessments, injury risk assessments, occupational rehabilitation counselling and early intervention rehabilitation
• Injury prevention – including manual-handling assessments, claims history reviews, ergonomic assessments, development of alternate duties, work-conditioning programs and the redesign of workplaces
• Training – in areas like stress management, manual handling, back care, safe work practices, the introduction of new equipment, work-station adjustments and developing pause exercises, where you take a break for exercise at work.
Interchange Australia has an OT that assists people with a disability who receive funding under the NDIS. For more information about the OT services we can offer, please call 1300 112 334.
For more information about OT Week, please visit the Occupational Therapy Australia website.